Marianne Craig Moore was born at her grandfather’s vicarage in Kirkwood, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri. Her parents separated before she was born and she never met her father. She lived in St Louis with her mother and elder brother until the age of sixteen before they moved to the Pittsburgh area and later to Carlisle, Pennsylvania where her mother taught English at a private girls’ school. She was educated at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1909. The future poet H. D. (Hilda Doolittle was a classmate). From 1911 to 1914 she taught at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
Her first poems appeared in the English magazine The Egoist and the US magazine Poetry in 1915. The following year she moved with her mother to Chatham, New Jersey and two years later to Greenwich village in New York where she met and associated with fellow writers. In 1921 H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) published a collection of her poetry, Poems and in 1924 she published a further collection entitled Observations. From 1925 until 1929 she edited Dial Magazine, a literary and cultural journal.
She moved to Brooklyn in 1929 where she was to live for the next thirty years. Her mother, whom she cared for devotedly in her ailing years, died in 1947. Further volumes of poetry, Selected Poems and The Pangolin and Other Verse appeared in the mid-1930’s and in 1951 her Collected Poems won her the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. A final volume, Collected Poems was published in 1967, two years after she had moved back to Greenwich Village.
Marianne Moore held strong religious beliefs all her life and was a campaigner for women’s suffrage. Her poetry, which was highly regarded by T S Elliott, has an unusual quality and is characterised by linguistic precision and the acute observation of people, places and animals. In addition to her poetry, she translated La Fontaine’s Fables and wrote a number of prose works on art, literature, music, literature and sport (she was a keen baseball fan). She died in 1972 after a series of strokes, having never married.